(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second article in a two-part series focused on Knoxville start-up Evolvr that is simultaneously participating in two business accelerator programs – “MediaWorks” in Knoxville and “GIGTANK” in Chattanooga.)
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
Tyler Hays and Patrick Teasdale, Co-Founders of local the start-up company Evolvr, are in a really unique place. They are exploring an undefined world that will soon be integrating virtual reality into the business marketplace.
In spite of the fact that the rules, techniques and even hardware are yet to be developed, they believe the new technology can have an immediate impact to help businesses. They are also simultaneously participating in two start-up company accelerators – the “GIGTANK” program in Chattanooga and the “MediaWorks” accelerator in Knoxville, an arrangement that is unprecedented by the two sponsoring organizations.
As noted in a recent post on teknovation.biz, this year’s “GIGTANK” accelerator includes both resident and ambassador teams. Start-ups in the former category will spend the full 10 weeks in Chattanooga, while those designated as ambassadors will do much of their work in their local communities, traveling to Chattanooga as needed.
Evolvr is in the ambassador category, so it will also benefit directly from its simultaneous involvement in the “MediaWorks” accelerator sponsored by the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC).
And, if the developing technology sector and dual accelerators did not present enough challenge, Hays and Teasdale admit they have never worked in a startup company. Yet, those factors seem to only further inspire the Co-Founders.
“It’s very captivating,” Hays says of the technology. “There are a lot of opportunities in virtual reality to make a real impact.”
While they are still exploring the best market segments, areas that are at the top of their initial list are property developers, who can use the 360 degree approach to market available buildings, and real estate brokers, who can lead homebuyers virtually through more homes in a much shorter amount of time, all while “experiencing” each space accurately.
“We know customers will stay engaged longer by using virtual reality,” Hays says.
During the two accelerator programs, they will be listening to customers and validating opportunities.
We want to understand where we can find traction and best utilize this (virtual reality) as a solution,” Hays notes.
They also believe being part of the inaugural crossover accelerator effort has great benefits for both cities.
“Opening-up a collaborative channel between the two start-up programs, will benefit future companies coming to or from East Tennessee,” Teasdale says.
At the end of the summer, the company has plans to present their business at Demo Day in both Knoxville and Chattanooga.
“We are working to build sustainable business that adds something significant to Tennessee’s culture,” Hays says.